Scroll to content
Westwood Primary School home page

Westwood Primary School

'If you believe you can do it, you can and you will!'

Content Scroll

Adventure 1: The Mysterious Mayan Mission

Our first exciting adventure of the year started with a message from a famous American explorer, John Lloyd Stephens. He informed us that he built a time machine to go back to the time of the ancient Mayans. These mysterious people lived many years ago and not much is known about them. He asked if we wanted to go with him… of course we said YES!


Before starting our journey we had to know where we were going so we used our geography skills to locate Central America on a map and then look more closely at the countries that make it up. The children completed a Burn 2 Learn to do so.

They then found out that Central America is in a very different time zone to the United Kingdom. After learning about how time zones work, the children worked out what time they would arrive in Central America considering flight times and time zones.

We had then arrived! Central America looked very different to what we have experienced living in the UK. The children arrived in Chichen Itza and saw a Mayan temple being built and wrote a setting description of what they witnessed. The children did some work as a group on post-its, looked at a WAGOLL and focused on two key learning objectives: expanded noun and fronted adverbials.

In our first reading week, we looked at a text called ‘The Lost Cities of the Maya’. The children learnt some key facts about the Mayan time and completed a range of activities: missing sub-headings, summarising paragraphs, word meanings and retrieval questions.

In order to fit in with the Mayan way of life we all created Mayan names. The children learnt about how the Mayans would have named themselves and then created their own name based on whether they are a boy or girl and when they are born. They then designed their own name plaque and wrote about the similarities and differences between the way we name ourselves now and how the Mayans did.

The Mayans then told us that we needed to look the part. They taught us about the hierarchy system that the Mayan people were separated into. Using this information, the children had to design a headdress following a criteria for the type of Mayan they wanted to be.


They then made the headdresses, taking careful consideration of their design sheets.

After making them, they wrote evaluations of how well they thought it had gone and what they would improve. This was also their opportunity to see if they stuck to their design criteria.

In our first editing lesson the children were looking at a WAGOLL about Mayan headdresses. They became teachers and highlighted and annotated the paragraph.

In art the children learnt about a famous artist, Frank Catherwood. They found out that he journeyed to Central America with John Lloyd Stephens and produced detailed drawings of the Mayan temples and surroundings. The children first looked at a lot of his work and answered some questions about it. They then recreated some of his art work themselves.

The children were then given a title to a story, ‘The Magical Headdress’. They had to write a story about their headdress becoming magical and transporting them to a different place. They first shared ideas about where they would go and what would happen there. Then we looked at including relative clauses to describe the setting. The children then wrote their imaginative stories.

We were then taken to learn all about the Mayan gods, who were very important in Mayan times. They first completed a burn 2 learn to locate facts about Mayan gods and worship to see if it was different or similar to today.


Using the information they gained and some research about Mayan gods, they created a fact file about their two chosen gods.

The children had discovered that the gods were very important to the Mayans. They then found out that sacrifices were made for the gods. They watched clips from a programme where explorers dived down and found ancient Mayan pots preserved in caves. They wondered how these were still intact thousands of years later. They completed a science investigation to find out why.

The children set up an experiment using water, salt and apples. They thought that there may have been salt in the water or air to preserve the pots. One slice of apple was placed in the bowl, one was placed in water and another in salt water.

After a few days they saw that, matching their predictions, the apple in the salt water had been preserved the best. They wrote up their findings.

After reading about Mayan writing, they children wanted to find out more about the special hieroglyphs. They created clay plaques and inscribed them with a Mayan hieroglyph.

A strange discovery was made by the class! We imagineered that we were explorers in Central America and had heard that a Mayan artefact had been discovered. We went outside and hunted for the pieces of pottery that turned out to be from the Mayan times. They fit them together to form two Mayan pots.

We then took on the role of newspaper reporters to let everyone know about this. They first matched the features of newspapers to an example, then thought of the important 5 Ws and finally a quote from someone. They then wrote their final reports.

We then had a go at drawing some still life pictures based on an arrangement of mayan food.

The children then looked at the features of instructions before using their new Wizard Words to write a set of instructions for making Mayan-Style Hot Chocolate.

Next, we looked into various theories as to why the Mayans might have vanished. 

After our research, each child had to decide why theory they thought was most likely.

Our Adventure Song